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Nov 27, 2015
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Nightlife: Manchester public house
By Matt Berkley | Photos by Jonathan Gayman
Posted On: 11/01/2015   

Manchester Public House
6655 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, 314.899.9111, manchesterpublichouse.com

The name Manchester Public House might bring to mind a kitschy, faux-British bar teeming with soccer paraphernalia, but itís actually a stylish and reserved pub tucked away on the southern edge of Franz Park and Dogtown.

Though thereís a heavy Sunday brunch and NFL crowd, most nights Manchester Public House is full of casually dressed regulars blowing the froth off a few pints of Guinness while Motown and í70s and í80s pop hits fill the air. The tempo picks up on weekend nights when a decidedly younger crowd goes strong until closing at 1:30 a.m. For the most part though, Manchester remains an old-school, unpretentious corner pub.

Belly up to the long wooden bar dominating the cozy, dark brick main room or relax in one of the deep leather booths lining the opposite wall. Those seeking a little more privacy can head to a handful of tables and a grand, old tufted leather chesterfield sofa facing a fireplace in the back room. The comfortable and inviting pub is complemented by a small patio with worn picnic tables where lonely burning cigars wait for their owners to return from the bar with freshened drinks.

Itís a pub, so stick with the beer. The menu features roughly 20 impressive pours in a wide range of styles. A tip of the cap to the management, which includes half-pint options (around $3) with already reasonable pints (all less than $7). Along with local favorites like Civil Life, out-of-state and import brews like Scrimshaw and Bellís regularly slide across the bar Ė frothy, full and never flat on numerous visits. The hard liquor is adequate, but lackluster cocktails are certainly not the draw here. Iíve had more satisfying Gin and Tonics out of my kitchen, but itís hard to be disappointed in a bar that serves 16-ounce cans of Stag and Pabst Blue Ribbon for only $3.

Manchesterís food menu boasts meaty, smoked options and quirky little treats like Pork Wellington Bites. Dogtown is St. Louisí unofficial burger town, and the pubís Hellraiser Burger, complete with fried jalapenos, Sriracha bacon and pepper jack cheese, stood up to any Iíve had in the neighborhood. Another winner was the Scotch egg, a hard-boiled egg wrapped in fennel-heavy sausage and a feathery-light breading. It paired flawlessly with the accompanying dollop of grainy mustard sauce. The brisket nachos were also well worth the calories Ė homemade corn tortilla chips remained crispy even after being doused in a healthy portion of beef brisket, thick and smoky-sweet vegetarian chili and Chihuahua cheese.

However, donít expect anything special from the pulled pork quesadillas or fish tacos. The former are bland and disappointing, and the latter pull off the difficult task of being incredibly over-seasoned and boring at the same time. Minus a few hiccups, the appetizer- and sandwich-heavy menu makes a great pub meal or late-night snack, as the kitchen is open until 11:30 p.m. most nights.

Falling in line with the string of great new bars redefining Dogtown, Manchester Public House has a level of service and style embedded so deeply that everything seems effortless. Itís a solid neighborhood pub or casual date spot where a quick bite can turn into a long, enjoyable evening in a comfortable space.

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